Friday, November 25, 2005

Stella the Safety Skunk

"Tis the season for report cards" -- fa la la la la la la la la

Owen and Harry brought home their report cards with little fanfare this week.  Today's report card looks nothing like those in days of yore. Nowhere, is there a number or a letter designating their placement on the knowledge hierarchy. This is a method, I am quite comfortable with. As I read the report card, I feel it more or less a summary of how the school district is filling their days with things like "literacy" and "numeracy". I guess "Reading" "Writing" and "Math" are passe. I have a sense of where they need improvement, and where they are on target, but not a sense of where they excel. Maybe this is a residue of the old way of thinking - part of that arcane letter/number scheme. They both got "VG" (very good) - which is the highest designates for "pride in their work" and "politeness/consideration towards others". Owen's teacher enjoys having him in her class and Harry, as I was informed was "a knowledgeable kindergartener". Good to know. I think I am glad to get their report cards, although I find myself wondering what it all really means. One thing is clear, neither of them are driving their teacher to drink. This must be a good thing.

Then, I obligingly attend "Student Led conferences". This replaces "Parent-Teacher Interviews". The jury is still out about the Student Led conferences. I take Harry to his class, and the teacher welcomes us in, and reminds Harry where he can get his package. He obediently retrieves a package from the front of the room, and we sit down and go through it together. It was a little like doing homework in a new environment. Actually it was a lot like doing homework in a new environment. Not once did the teacher hover or comment. Harry and I, the keeners that we are, completed the package. I waited for the teacher to pop up at anytime and come and give us a sticker for our solid effort. She didn't seem all that interested that we were even there. OR that we did all the activities.  Harry and I went around his classroom and he pointed out all his artwork and showed me his favourite activity centers and that was that. When it was all over, I felt a bit gypped. I wanted the gold star damnit!

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you are well aware that I tend to eschew the conventional, and turn most expectations on their heads. So, you would think that I would embrace this student centered approach, and rave about process focused pedagogy.  Why do I need the affirmation of the teacher to know that things are okay with my lad?  Maybe it was because I learned nothing radically new at the Student led conference. Maybe I was not supposed to.  Maybe Harry did all the learning here - its' hard to say.  

I sit down and do homework with my kindergartener every evening. I have a pretty firm grasp of his strengths and weaknesses. I did learn about Stella the Safety Skunk, and most of his pictures from his "You and Your World" duo-tang involve smoke, explosions and fire. I'm glad that he can find comfort in Stella the Safety Skunk in the event of bomb explosion. And isn't there something really weird about smoke, fire and explosions being the dominant theme in his "You and Your World" duo-tang?

     So, I have not yet figured out these student led conferences. Maybe I just need to let Harry take the lead and appreciate what he is getting out of Kindergarten. It impressed me that he was far more interested in the upcoming printing handout than he was in Stella the Safety Skunk. Harry has never told me about Stella the Safety Skunk at home. That just shows you where safety is on his priority list. He does, proudly announce what the letter of the day is, however.

And he wants to be a Jedi when he grows up. I am beaming.


rickislala said...

pulled out my "report card"
from the 60's all D's.
but who can blame me when I was taught "the 3 R's" Reading, Righting, and Rimatick....glad to see we went to "Very Good"

hotboy said...

A Jedi? Excellent ambition. This boy will go far. Hotboy

Eric said...

As long as he doesn't get lured by the dark side...

Mary P. said...

A long veteran of student-led conferences, I admit that I find them entirely unsatisfactory. As you say, any parent who pays any attention to their child's schoolwork from home will learn very little from such an event.

What I am looking for - I'd bet what you are looking for - is not really an "A" from the teacher, but an adult perspective on my child, the big picture that my child can't adequately convey, the big picture that she likely isn't even aware exists.

Please, educational theorists! I am all for the notion of empowering my children in their education (I was a home-schooler, after all), I adore my child, but for this thing, let me talk to an adult. Thank you.

MC Etcher said...

Wants to be a Jedi when he grows up, Cool!

I fear my kids would be Sith.

I mean, if they're just half as mischievous as I was...

I'm worried.

McSwain said...

Geez--I don't think I'd get "Student-Led Conferences." Is that a Canadian thing? I know how my child is doing because I'm an involved parent. What I get from Parent-Teacher conferences is an understanding of the teacher, whether he/she "gets" my kid, and what methods the teacher is using to teach--from an adult perspective. This would make me crazy. But, it sounds like your boys are good learners and smart little guys to boot, so they'll be fine regardless.

robmcj said...

Teachers outsourcing the PTA stuff to the kids and parents? I suppose it's the next logical step.